Russian spacecraft with three astronauts blasts off to ISS

The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying two Russian cosmonauts and one American Astronaut blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on a two-day journey to the International Space Station.

The Russian Soyuz MS-02 spacecraft which is the second upgraded version of the earlier Soyuz space capsule left at 0805 GMT on October 19 carrying the new crew members to the space station.

The new team members consist of NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough who will be in the role of flight engineer for Expedition 49, and he will be the commander of Expedition 50.The other two crew members are Russian Cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov who is the commanding officer of the Soyuz craft and Andrey Borisenko.

Once the spacecraft reaches space, the team will change from their bulky space suits into more comfortable clothing and will check the various components aboard the Soyuz craft. The craft will orbit the Earth 34 times before it comes near the ISS with which it will dock on Friday, October 21 at 0959 GMT. The hatch will be opened by 1235 GMT, and the new crew will be greeted by the outgoing crew. The complete procedure can be seen live on, courtesy of NASA TV.

It will be Kimbrough’s second mission to the Space Station. Earlier he flew in the Space Shuttle and was involved with the construction of the ISS and its expansion to make room for six crew members rather than three. The Russian cosmonaut duo is from Roscosmos and will stay on the ISS for about four months before they return to Earth. Andrey Borisenko is visiting the ISS for the second time and had visited the station in 2011’s for the Expedition 28. He had earlier to his stint as a cosmonaut worked in Mission Control for the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, for years. He also served as flight director for the space station Mir as well as the International Space Station.